S32 Stampa

The European city: is there still a distinctive European model of urban governance?


Ugo Rossi, University di Torino (Italy)
Alberto Vanolo, Università di Torino (Italy)


A decade ago, French political scientist Patrick Le Galès published the highly influential book entitled "European Cities. Social Conflicts and Governance" (2002, Oxford UP; in French: "Le retour des villes européennes. Sociétés urbaines, mondialisation, gouvernment et gouvernance", 2003, PUF), in which he identified a distinctive European model of urban governance, based on the aggregation of, and the compromise between, conflicting interests and their crystallization within territorialialized governance structures. The influence of this book has transgressed established disciplinary boundaries, attracting interest from scholars belonging to a variety of social science disciplines concerned with urban as well as European integration issues, including human geography.

Ten years later, one cannot fail to notice how European cities have been experiencing dramatic changes since Le Galès wrote his path breaking book. In particular, over the last five years European cities have been increasingly grappling with the consequences of the turbulences of global markets, the crisis of the ‘eurozone’ and the related exacerbation of the North-South dualism. With varying intensities, municipal governments as well as urban economies across Europe have indeed been affected by the economic downturn and the austerity measures being imposed at national and supranational levels.

In response to the global economic crisis as well as to pre-existing climate change challenges, cities understood as ‘collective actors’, according to Le Galès’ approach, and particularly their politico-economic elites have increasingly committed themselves to the pursuit of governance strategies aimed at enhancing the economic and environmental  resilience of urban societies. These strategies entail the adoption of economic development goals largely originating from ‘elsewhere’ and most typically from the extraterritorial global space of policy circulation, such as the reduction of carbon emissions, the eco-restructuring of the built environment, the embrace of smart and creative growth pathways. The governmental rationality and the related governance structures of European cities have been adapting to these changing economic-political conditions, particularly leading to the deterritorialization of urban policy formation and the strategic repositioning of actors, pro-growth coalitions and discourses of urban economic development.

This session interrogates to what extent these recent changes question the distinctive European model of urban governance identified by Patrick Le Galès. In order to do this, paper submissions are invited touching on these issues (but not limited to these):

  • The relationship between the restructuring of urban economies and governance structures across Europe in the wake of the global economic crisis;
  • The changing governance structures and strategies in Europe in relation to evolving urbanization patterns;
  • Emerging spatialities of urban governance across Europe: city-regions, intermunicipal cooperation, cross-border conurbations;
  • The globalization and neoliberalization of urban governance across Europe: policy mobilities and hegemonic models;
  • The environmentalization of urban governance: the incorporation of carbon emissions reduction targets, sustainable housing and smart growth planning principles into local policy agendas and the governance implications;
  • Authoritarian vs. participatory governance: urban social movements, social conflicts and the negotiation of governance processes.

Read the abstracts

Slot 1
Chair: Ugo Rossi, Alberto Vanolo
Discussant: Patrick Le Galès

Presentation n. 1
Title: Rethinking the European model of governance at a time of crisis
Author(s): Ugo Rossi, Alberto Vanolo

Presentation n. 2
Title: Is the EU a "metropolitan Economy"? Governance and Territory in the representations of Le Galès and Taylors works.
Author(s): Giuseppe Bettoni

Presentation n. 3
Title: The governance of spatial development in Europe: similar challenges, different approaches?
Author(s): Dominic Stead

Presentation n. 4
Title: Differences and similarities in social cohesion and global competitiveness among European cities
Author(s): Marianna d'Ovidio, Costanzo Ranci

Presentation n. 5
Title: Questioning the infra-urban scales: urban models within the urban crisis
Author(s): Maria Luisa Giordano

Slot 2

Chair: Ugo Rossi, Alberto Vanolo
Discussant: Antonio Calafati

Presentation n. 1
Title: CENTROPE, Social and economic linkages and/or cross-border governance in the Vienna-Bratislava Region
Author(s): Walter Matznetter, Robert Musil

Presentation n. 2
Title: Unions of municipalities: potential cooperation networks in Apulia
Author(s): Stefano De Rubertis, Marilena Labianca

Presentation n. 3
Title: Mediterranean Neighbourhoods: Is There an Alternative Governance Model for Local Identities?
Author(s): Marco Picone, Filippo Schilleci

Presentation n. 4
Title: The failure of land-use planning in Spain within the context of the housing bubble and the uncertain transition towards a sustainable urban model
Author(s): Juli Valdunciel

Presentation n. 5
Title: A multi-criteria approach for the identification of Italian metropolitan areas and the formulation of territory-specific policies
Author(s): Sabrina Iommi

Slot 3

Chair: Alberto Vanolo
Discussant: Ugo Rossi

Presentation n. 1
Title: Urban sustainability between environmental targets and social participation.
Author(s): Marco Tononi, Antonella Pietta

Presentation n. 2
Title: The Spanish City's long way towards a sustainable model. The need of a multilevel partnership
Author(s): Manuel Valenzuela

Presentation n. 3
Title: The efficiency of new governance tools in light of Western and Central and Eastern European experiences
Author(s): Ildiko Egyed

Presentation n. 4
Title: Institutional partnerships for socially sustainable residential developments: the example of Urban Consortiums in the Madrid Autonomous Region
Author(s): Marco Adelfio

Session code: S32